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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Industry Scan

 

AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT

Nav Canada Contract

Satellite-based global air traffic surveillance provider Aireon finalized a long-term, commercial data services contract with Canada’s civil air navigation service provider (ANSP) Nav Canada. Aireon is a joint venture between Nav Canada and Iridium Communications.

“Nav Canada believed in Aireon so much, even from the start, that they expressed their intent to not only be a partner in the project, but also to be a customer. Nav Canada operates some of the busiest oceanic airspace in the world, making them an ideal customer for the service that Aireon provides global, pole-to-pole air traffic monitoring capabilities,” said Ashley Eames, a spokeswoman for Iridium.

Aireon expects to pay $200 million in hosting fees to Iridium for the integration and launch of its automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) receiver payloads on the Iridium NEXT satellites, scheduled for initial launch in February 2015. The entire Iridium NEXT satellite constellation is scheduled for completion in 2017.

Harris, who was awarded FAA’s Datacomm contract as part of the implementation of NextGen, is currently in the process of building the ADS-B receiver payloads that will fly on Iridium NEXT satellites.

“The services provided through Aireon represent great value to the airlines and ANSPs,” said John Crichton, president and CEO of Nav Canada. “The transformational impact that space-based aircraft surveillance will have on aircraft operations is expected to result in more than $125 million per year in fuel savings through more efficient flight paths in the North Atlantic alone.”

Additionally, Nav Canada contracted with Jeppesen to design and deliver area navigation with required navigation performance (RNAV RNP) instrument flight procedures.

FreeFlight for Capstone

FAA selected FreeFlight Systems to provide upgraded automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) avionics to fulfill the requirements of the second phase of its Capstone Project in Alaska.

The project was originally launched in 1999 as a joint government-industry research and development effort to improve air traffic safety in Alaska. The avionics provide terrain, weather and traffic data for pilots on cockpit displays, and resulted in a 57 percent reduction in the number of aviation accidents in Alaska over a 12-year period, according to FreeFlight.

FAA funded the installation of the first-generation systems during the “Version 1” Capstone program, and now will complete “Version 2” of the program, installing new rule-compliant ADS-B avionics provided by FreeFlight Systems.

FreeFlight will remove the “Version 1” avionics on up to 600 aircraft replace them with its RANGR FDL-978 XVR transceiver.

COMMERCIAL

Study Shows PED Use

Ninety-nine percent of adult airline passengers who travel with a portable electronic device (PED) such as a smartphone or tablet carried at least one PED onboard with them while traveling in the past 12 months, with seven in 10 reporting they used their devices during flight, according to a new joint study released by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The study, Portable Electronic Devices on Aircraft, has been shared with the FAA as it reviews its policies for in-flight PED use, the groups said.

“Airline passengers have come to rely on their smartphones, tablets and e-readers as essential travel companions,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CEA. “Understanding the attitudes and behaviors of passengers that are using electronic devices while traveling will help the FAA make informed decisions.”

According to the survey, when asked to turn off their electronic devices, 59 percent of passengers say they always turn their devices completely off, 21 percent of passengers say they switch their devices to “airplane mode,” and 5 percent say they sometimes turn their devices completely off.

FAA formed a Portable Electronic Devices Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PED ARC) with representatives from the airlines, along with pilots, flight attendants, electronics and avionics manufacturers. The PED ARC is tasked with making recommendations in July on expansion of PED use while maintaining the highest levels of safety for the passengers and without compromising the continued safe operation of aircraft.

Passenger Traffic Grows

Global air passenger traffic grew by nearly 6 percent in March compared to a year earlier, driven by strong demand growth in emerging markets, according to a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA Director General Tony Tyler said Latin America, the Middle East and China showed the strongest growth. The Middle East reports the strongest international air passenger traffic growth with a 15.6 percent increase over March 2012 and a 14.2 percent increase in capacity. Carriers in the United States and Europe saw international traffic growth of less than 4 percent in March compared to a year ago, a reflection of the “persisting weakness” in the Eurozone economy and federal budget cuts in the United States.

“Strong demand for air travel is consistent with improving business conditions. Performance, however, has been uneven. Mature markets are seeing relatively little growth while emerging markets continue to show a robust expansion,” Tyler said. “In view of this, airlines are responding with a very cautious approach to capacity management.”

MILITARY

B-52’s Digital Overhaul

The U.S. Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress fleet is receiving a major digital upgrade from Boeing, helping the airframe manufacturer to provide a foundation for continued modernization of the military’s longest serving bomber airplanes.

The upgrades, part of a $76 million Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) contract, covers low rate initial production of CONECT kits. CONECT is designed to give B-52 aircrews the ability to send and receive information via satellite communications, allowing them to modify mission plans while in flight.

Each B-52 crew station will receive new color displays, computers and keyboards to allow the exchange of CONECT data between aircrews, according to a spokesperson for Boeing’s B-52 program. Although the B-52 fleet first entered service in 1954, these upgrades, along with previous updates to the avionics, data-link communications and electronic systems, allow the aging fleet to remain effective, according to Boeing.

Other improvements include digital interphone system added to the work stations which will allow crews to communicate between aircraft, to crews on the ground and air operations centers.

The contract award allows Boeing to begin purchasing the CONECT kits that will be installed on the bombers. To date, one CONECT kit has been installed and fully operational on a test aircraft. In July, Boeing will begin installing the first real production CONECT package at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. Other kits are currently being ordered and will begin installation in 2014, though Boeing does not have a targeted date for when the entire B-52 fleet will receive the upgrades. — Woodrow Bellamy III

CONTRACTS

FLYHT Aerospace Solutions was selected by a second Middle Eastern air force to supply its automated flight information reporting system (AFIRS) 228 systems as upgrades for 7 C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft. FLYHT is scheduled to begin delivery of the new components in the third quarter.

L-3 Platform Integration has selected Rockwell Collins to supply communication, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) avionics upgrade for the U.S. Air Force EC-130H. The EC-130H CNS/ATM program calls for upgrading the Air Force’s legacy EC-130H Compass Call aircraft with avionics that provide compliance with international CNS/ATM airspace standards meeting necessary with 2020 navigation performance mandates.

SITA was selected to provide air-to-ground communications and air-to-ground datalink service in Indonesian airspace. Airline crews and controllers in the Jakarta Flight Information Region (FIR) will soon use the new technology to exchange Air Traffic Control-related messages, including enroute services such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS) and Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) services. SITA will also provide a dual redundant ADS-CPDLC ground workstation, a data link server and an ADS CPDLC test system to support Future Air Navigation Systems service in the Jakarta Flight Information Region.

Solar-Powered Flight A solar-powered aircraft that flies without jet fuel began its attempt at a flight across the United States in early May. Solar Impulse, the solar powered aircraft developed by Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg, is a single-seater plane powered by 12,000 solar cells that rest below the solar panels on the upper part of the wings. The cells capture the energy of the sun and transform it into electricity, simultaneously powering the aircraft’s four engines and lithium ion batteries. The flight began in San Francisco, and will make stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Mo., and Washington, before completing its journey in New York.

Photo courtesy Solar Impulse

A solar-powered aircraft that flies without jet fuel began its attempt at a flight across the United States in early May. Solar Impulse, the solar powered aircraft developed by Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg, is a single-seater plane powered by 12,000 solar cells that rest below the solar panels on the upper part of the wings. The cells capture the energy of the sun and transform it into electricity, simultaneously powering the aircraft’s four engines and lithium ion batteries. The flight began in San Francisco, and will make stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Mo., and Washington, before completing its journey in New York.
 

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